Letter to S, 3 Feb 2011

Hey S--

It flatters me, of course, that you think of me as a hidden guardian of Portland. it's true that a great deal of my masculine psyche has been built on crimefighting- and masked-hero- foundations. Thus, our mossy city broods under the weight of its many hidden crimes, and I am its avenging conscience, flitting about with only my bike and my pack for company...

...actually, I spend less and less time actually biking, and more and more driving the PlayWrite carpool. We're at Rosemont right now, which always makes me wish I had daughters of my own, strange to say. These writers have so much imagination and feeling, as you know, and yet I live such a starved and secluded life, quite literally a sentence for most of them to endure. Most are clearly in desperate need of a hug, which is of course so strictly forbidden.

Prior to this we did New Aves, which L ably led, and prior to that the Showcase and Portland Night High School. We have Mt. Scott immediately after Rosemont concludes in two weeks, then White Shield actually overlapping a little bit. As far as I can tell, there's no real reason why our operational tempo has stepped up so dramatically, excepti8ng the usual varying requirements of individual sites. Concurrently, it seems like PlayWrite's current coach roster is the thinnest it's been in a long time, with the old guard all but gone, and the newbies not quite sticking, for various reasons. When I think about it, the weird synergy of B, the fatalistic exuberance of A, the strange grandiosity of T, the cold fervor of C--it's a wonder that any of us can sustain the centrifugal forces at work throughout.

I remain as vulnerable financially as I've ever been, perhaps more so, and it gets harder and harder to justify the sacrifices necessary to maintain my PlayWrite availability. This, I know, is the core of my difficulties right now, a tough little knot to solve. It's deeply important to me that, of all the work I'm doing, I can honestly say I fully and deepl.y believe in their core missions. All my works are built on roots of service and selflessness, the conviction that meaning and purpose are indispensable, in all things; and to do anything without meaning is ultimately wasteful. The problem with these values, is that selflessness necessarily leads to a neglect of self, a fundamental dynamic that I believe is responsible for why, in our fair city, a typical individual in social services makes so very little, compared to the vast majority of our peers; and that same dynamic prevails in performance, where work of substance and quality is somehow held to be far less valuable than the insubstantial, the superficial.

I take it on faith that my information remains incomplete. Ultimately, I refuse to conclude that these values, as thus described, are as unsustainable as my current experience indicates. But this is a close-run thing. It's a high-stakes game here at PJS HQ, and we play for keeps up in this here piece.

"Elsewhere" V. II is a pretty big success right now, I'm happy to say. We sold out all but one of our originally scheduled 5 performances during the scattershot Fertile Ground Festival, and we've thus decided to extend two more performances, just for the joy of it, really. Ellen wrote 4 new pieces, and even though, once again, we generally felt rushed and strained through the rehearsal process, Tech and Dress felt like an ample and healthy process, for once, and quite suddenly--without actually putting that much thought to things, really--I find myself surprisingly proud of our work, in a way I rarely am, in my experience.

Now, Shaking the Tree Studios, where we're performing, seats only 55 in our current setup, so a Sold Out house is not, in fact, all that hard to engineer. But it is authentic and truthful, to know that we as a company have grown in the interval since August, and the pieces we've carried over since then have grown quite a lot, too...

Let me know how things go in Lombardy, as you can. I've been remiss in following your blog, I'm afraid, but I will check in there soon, too. Know that your friendship and your talent are very dearly missed out here--